Come for the student loan forgiveness. Stay for the blueberry pie.
You know Maine for the lobster shacks and picturesque lighthouses dotting its craggy coastlines. You may have also devoured a life-changing slice of the state’s famed blueberry pie (Maine produces the most wild blueberries in the world) or cut fresh tracks with your skis on an uncrowded mountain.
Now, for its next trick, the northernmost state is turning its charm up to a level 10 as it tries to convert you from doting tourist to permanent resident. Move to Maine, and the state will help you pay down your student loans.
While the state of Maine won’t actually cut a check directly to Sallie Mae, the state is offering a state tax incentive to offset your student loan payments. The Educational Opportunity Tax Credit started as a way to retain graduates from Maine’s colleges and universities. Now, it’s expanded to include those who have graduated from colleges and universities anywhere in the United States after 2016.
In a nutshell, the tax credit allows qualifying residents to subtract the amount of student loan payments made in a year from their state income taxes. Say you paid $2,000 in student loans, and owe the state of Maine $2,200 in taxes. You’re only on the hook for $200 come tax time.
Stipulations of the program do vary based on your student loans and degree type, and the incentive is most generous for those who have degrees in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, that is).
So why exactly is Maine trying to woo recent graduates? It turns out Maine is among the states with the oldest populations in the nation, with a median age of 44.6, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As boomers begin retiring, the state recognizes it needs to recruit younger workers to help fill job openings.
Maine’s program could be extra enticing given the recent news that a more widely known national Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program has rejected more than 99 percent of applicants since it began accepting applications in 2017. Only 96 borrowers out of 28,000 who applied for PSLF had their debt wiped away by the program that promised student loan forgiveness to those who worked in public service sectors (think: nurses, police officers, first responders) for 10 years while making loan repayments.
State-level student loan forgiveness programs like Maine’s certainly represent a smaller scale of assistance than the federal program, but ultimately might be more effective and accessible.
There are many great reasons to move to Maine in addition to this generous student loan assistance program: Maine’s cities regularly appear on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list, and studies show that Portland, ME, is not only a top city for affordable healthcare, its residents actually live longer than people in other parts of the country. And can we talk about the food scene?
So, recent graduates … will you consider moving to Maine if they help pick up your student loan tab? What if they throw in a slice of blueberry pie?